“Take ‘Awl’ Of Me” – One Year Bible Reading – March 1

Old Testament: Leviticus 24:1-25:46

Intro:  

A boy who cursed was executed with speed.

Every fiftieth year both people and land were freed.

God was always protecting the poor.

A slave could commit to his master by having his ear punctured against a door.

 

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Leviticus 24: 1 -16  Ultimate Curse for Cursing

We hear cursing all the time in all places.  Ever wonder why they choose to use the name of Jesus or Hell as curse words?  Using those words lightly diminishes the meaning.  If we say Hell enough then maybe it’s not so important and nothing to be feared.  Well, in ole Israelite culture, since God was in charge, He made sure certain words weren’t taken lightly. For example, one day an Israelite lady’s son, who was half Egyptian, fought with a full-blooded Israelite.  The boy yelled out the Lord’s name in vain.  It was a violation of the third commandment not to take the name of the Lord in vain.  The case went to Moses since it involved an alien.  The verdict came back:  guilty!  The punishment?  Stoning (with real stones).  The lady’s son was brought outside the camp and those who heard him were to lay their hands on him.  This transferred the sin of hearing such a thing back on the man.  He was then stoned to death (with real stones).

Can you imagine what would happen around water-coolers all around the country if this was the law in the U.S.?  There would be a lot less work getting done in this country and lots of piles of rocks.

Leviticus 24: 17 -23  Ai Yi Yi

If someone took someone’s life, that person’s life would be taken.  Same for an animal (the other animal’s life not the man’s).  If someone hurt his neighbor, the penalty was the same harm to the abuser.  This is where we get the phrase, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  The legal phrase is lex talionis, an equal compensation for each crime.   This would empty our prisons . . .  but fill up the cemeteries?

Leviticus 25: 1 – 22  Go Ahead And Take the Year Off

The land was to be rested every seventh year.  You could harvest for six years but the seventh year the land had to be rested.  After seven of the seven year cycles there was to be a Year Of Jubilee.    It was the fiftieth year.  Everyone was to return to their own families and their own land.  Any land sold due to poverty had to be returned to its original owner.  Anyone who sold himself into slavery was set free (doesn’t this sound like our salvation?).  This year was to be taken into consideration in buying and selling.  They weren’t to cheat each other by taking advantage of that year.  God would provide three years’ worth of crops in the sixth year preceding Jubilee so that they’d have enough until the crops came in again the year after the Jubilee.  What a deal!

Leviticus 25: 23 – 34  Jewish Pawn Stars

To help the poor, there were laws of “redemption” in place.  There was regulation on selling houses or land and being able to purchase them back.  God likes helping the poor.  There could be no usury (exorbitant interest rates –  take that cc companies!).

Leviticus 25: 35 – 55  Why Not Take “Awl” Of Me?

Slaves could be owned but only from amongst those outside Israel.  It was also allowed to those who fell into deep poverty as Israelites.  Don’t confuse Old Testament slavery with pre-Civil War slavery.  It was not the same.  It was more like indentured servitude in Revolutionary War times.  Slaves could be teachers, lawyers, nannies, etc.  And, it seems it’d be better to be a slave in Israelite culture than a pagan in pagan culture.  There was a lot better chance of being treated well and even an opportunity to go to Heaven!  There was even an opportunity to give yourself to a family for life despite the law of being freed after six years (Ex. 21: 2).  It did involve having an awl drilled through your ear to make your commitment (Ex. 21:56, “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently”).

It symbolized giving “awl” of yourself to that family.  1Timothy 1: 10 prohibits slavery in the New Testament.  The word (andrapodistes) can be translated “kidnappers” or “slave-traders.”  In Deuteronomy 15: 1112, if a slave did insist on leaving, he was to be given what he needed to live on.  Does that sound like early-American slavery?  So stop the nonsense!   Christians have freed slaves!  Slavery is not as portrayed by critics but was very humane.  (Who has not had a job in America that has not felt like a slave?  Jewish slaves were treated better!)  Critics should quit talking trash about Christians and slavery!

By the way, the term “bond-servant” is often used of disciples in the New Testament.  Paul used it often to refer to himself (Romans 1: 1 NASB, Greek is doulos and is often translated, “slave”).  It is used to show the total commitment of a person to Jesus Christ.  Even slavery in the Old Testament is used as a “type” to symbolize our relationship with Jesus.

Summary:  

A guy was killed for cursing.  God decreed punishment equal to the crimes committed.  Every fiftieth year was to be a special year when everyone’s debt was forgiven and land sold due to poverty would be returned to its owner.  It was also a year of rest from all work.

God put rules in place to protect the poor.  A slave could commit to his owner for life by having his or her ear pierced.

 

New Testament:  Mark 10:13-31

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Intro:  

From Heaven, anyone like a child would not be barred.

For a rich person, the way would be much more hard.

Peter said the disciples had given up all for Him and began to fear.

Jesus said it wouldn’t be in vain in Heaven or down here.

 

Jesus taught the disciples that they had to become like children to be saved.  Jesus told a rich kid whose stuff was keeping him from coming to God.  He told him, in his case, that he’d have to give up his riches to get to Heaven.  Peter reminded Jesus that the boys had given up everything for Him.  Jesus told him not to worry, that he’d be rewarded in both this life and the next.

 

Mark 10: 13 – 16  Don’t Act So Mature!

Parents were bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.  Who wouldn’t?  The “boys” rebuked them.  In short, “SMH”  (shaking my head).  Jesus was shaking His head, too.  He told the guys to let the kids come to him.  Jesus said that everyone had to be like a child to get into Heaven.  Why?  Children are trusting, accepting, open.  Then Jesus took the kids in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.

Mark 10: 17 – 31  The Punky Rich Kid From The ‘Burbs

We covered this dude in Matthew (19: 16 – 26).  He was rich.  He had an iPad, iPod (classic and new style), iPhone (latest OS) and whatever else rich kids have.  He didn’t work on a paper route or work in a grocery store.  But he was really nice.  Really nice.  His hair was combed nice, nice clothes, car was clean.  He was smart.  He approached Jesus with a question about the meaning of life.  What did someone have to do to get to Heaven?  Good question.  The ultimate question for this lifetime.  Jesus told him to make sure he had the second half of the Ten Commandments down to treat others right.  The young guy said he had done these since he was a toddler.  Jesus (quoting Steven Jobs) said, “One more thing . . . .”  He told the kid to sell all he had and then to follow Him.

The young guy was totally like bummed.  He couldn’t do it.  He had too many electronics.  Walked away with head down.

The “twelve guys” were now totally bummed.  Sheesh.  “Who can make it in then?,” they thought.  Jesus  said it’d be tough for a rich person to make it to Heaven.  He said it’d be easier to drive a Humvee through Tin Pan Alley, for Melissa McCarthy with a doughnut to squeeze through the turnstiles in the New York subways, or a triple-humped dromedary to force its way through the aisles of the Marrakesh Express (hey, you try coming up with an analogy of a camel and an eye of a needle!).  Jesus said with Yahweh, though, they’d be able to pull it off.

Peter, whose name in American Indian is “I stick my foot in my mouth,” whined, “we gave up everything for you!”  Jesus said, “Chill.  You’ll receive friendship from lots of people that will be like family to you.  I admit, you will get reviled and persecuted but you’ll get a pretty good place in Heaven.  Things will be reversed there:  first, last and last, first.  Dig?

Note:  Matthew, who is distinctly Jewish, adds that the twelve guys will get a special place on twelve thrones in the Millennium (Rev. 21: 12- 14).

Summary:  

Jesus taught the disciples that they had to become like children to be saved.  Jesus told a rich kid whose stuff was keeping him from coming to God.  He told him, in his case, that he’d have to give up his riches to get to Heaven.  Peter reminded Jesus that the boys had given up everything for Him.  Jesus told not to worry, that he’d be rewarded in both this life and the next.

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